Wednesday, May 28, 2014

#4 - Spring: A New Beginning

The fields are sprinkled with dandelions
Spring is here everyone! 

Oh! The dandelions are so beautiful! Everyone hates them, but I love them! 

It's so amazing seeing patches of yellow everywhere mixed in with the ripened dandelions, white and fluffy balls of cuteness. 

Pictures don't do it justice, you HAVE to see it in person, but I tried anyway.
"Ripe" White Dandelion

Pine trees and field
The big tree with "caterpillars"
And in this picture, there were fuzzy things that were blowing off of a biiiiig tree behind the pine trees and it was really cool and pretty, even though you can't see it much in the picture.

Maybe you can in this one? You can see the big trees at least:
Again, you have to be there.

Caterpillar looking things on the trees
But these were the things that were on the tree.

Aren't they so cute!

They look like caterpillars!

But then they grow this fuzz stuff that's really soft and it looks like the caterpillars just got really moldy, haha.

And these kinds of blossom trees are everywhere!
Flowering trees everywhere
Me throwing blossoms...where did they go?

So spring has come, and it's come fast. Not wearing tights at all anymore, not cold enough for that, and I was regretting aaaaall the times that I wore a long sleeved shirt this week, especially on Friday, because I heard that it was hotter here (in the 90's) than it was in Tempe (in the 80's)!

This Weeks Missionary Experiences

As far as the week goes, it was pretty good. Church is really the highlight of my week. Being surrounded by people who already have a testimony and who can edify and uplift you is reaaaaally nice, as opposed to mostly being the only ones who teach. It's nice to catch a break from that. So Sunday was great. We have an adorable little eight year old who we are teaching that is so cute and he is reading The Book of Mormon like crazy! He's reading the INDEX! Really, I don't know if he understands anything he's reading (as we had to tell him the story of Adam and Eve; he'd never heard it before), but he understands the importance of reading the scriptures. And he's already friends with someone in the ward who is getting baptized on the 7th, and so that's awesome! Man, he's awesome, I love this kid.

We had an investigator try to drop us this week, saying he had heard that we weren't a good Christian religion. We were so sad and pondering hard about what to do. We went over at our usual time despite his wanting to 'discontinue our services' and testified that we cared about him and that the only way to know if this church is a good Christian religion or not is to read The Book of Mormon itself.  It was really powerful. And he opened up to us about his life. He's had a rough one. And we knew that already, but yeah. It's amazing how people who've had such rough lives can still function. They're so strong despite them feeling so weak. I am amazed at his devotion to God and his ability to resist temptation even in the worst of times. We're teaching him still. He didn't drop us. Yay!

A lot of people are moving out of our ward and into the other ward. We had a transition lesson this week with the sisters who live with us because they're going to be teaching this lady now. Four missionaries at one appointment; it was a good thing she had a long couch, haha. I'm still learning how to be a better teacher. This lady was baptized already into the baptist religion. She feels she doesn't need to be baptized again. I have always dreaded these scenarios, though I knew they would happen. I tried to explain to the best of my ability why it was important for her to be baptized with someone with priesthood authority while at the same time not degrading her previous baptism. It was tense and I was doing most of the talking even though I was the newest missionary in the room, and I just hoped I was doing alright. She was nice to us even right after the lesson though. And Sister Christianson told me that I had a natural ability to teach. So that's comforting. I still want to become better and surer though.

Oh, and right after that lesson we went to do service at the temple! 
Putting Soil On planted flowers
Flowers ready to be planted

We planted some flowers. It was a beautiful day to do it.

Everyone pitched in. 

Sister Chistianson and Sister Neilson,
the other sisters who live in the apartment
My Companion, Sister Easter

It felt good to get out hands dirty. And to be working next to the other members.

Planning Ahead

Oh, and, we are going to the Temple on Wednesday next week! So our P-Day has been changed to Wednesday next week as well, so you won't hear from me until Wednesday. But I'm excited to go to the tiny little temple. I took some pictures in celebration.

Hamlet with Moroni in background
Hamlet is so cute. And look Marshall, I'm wearing your bracelet you gave me! Thank you for it again! You're the best! And that goes to all my family as well: You're the best!

Oh, and why I did not email on Monday was because it was Memorial Day, meaning the library was closed and it was a great day to proselyte, seeing as people were home. So P-day was changed to Tuesday this week. I hope you all had a good Memorial Day. 

Personal Growth and Revelation

My Memorial Day was very impactful. Every week we are to write a letter to the mission president to let him know how things are going. I would like to take some of the letter I wrote him and share it with you, this growing experience which happened yesterday:

"Be still, my soul: ...In ev'ry change [ye], faithful, will remain" (Be Still My Soul, Hymn 124. (Punctuation added.))

Yesterday was a pivotal point in my mission. I've voiced to you my concerns of being a realistic thinker and tending to think about things from both sides. There was a situation yesterday in which someone told us that if we ever felt so inclined to come back and she would be glad to get us started in believing in the 'one and true faith/God.' While my faith wasn't shaken, my resolve to stand by it was just because we also believe that ours is the most correct religion and I have respect for people who believe what they know so thoroughly that they want to share it with others even if it's a bit upfront. I mean, that's what we do. And that was the thing on top of less than ideal tracting approaches yesterday that put me in a slump and caused tears to roll down my face, having to hold back my sobs eventually. I now believe that one of the reasons I've been called to serve in this mission is to learn how to respond to people who have strong faith of their own and who will try to convert us themselves. And I need to learn not only how to respond, but also to resolve my response in my own mind. Sister Easter reminded me of the option of getting a priesthood blessing. She said she was thinking of getting one too. 

That blessing and the way Elder Schneringer and Davis prepped me for it by asking me, "why is Jesus Christ important to you?" and "what has the greatest joy been for you since coming on your mission?" (which has been attending church btw), and "what are your expectations in receiving this blessing?" was something that uplifted me more than anything else could have. What was said was simple, but I knew it was from my Heavenly Father, and I know that he will be with me as I serve my mission. I am so grateful for the priesthood power that is on Earth today. This truly is the church with the most correct teachings on this Earth. My testimony of the restoration has again been reinforced and I "will go forth with faith, putting fear behind me" in order to face the challenges of this mission and of this life and I will make it a strengthening experience. 

I seal this letter in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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